ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Monday adjourned until Oct 18 the hearing of a graft reference against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for having assets beyond his known sources of income.
Judge Muhammad Bashir recorded the statement of Al-Baraka Bank Senior Vice President Tariq Javed, who had also appeared in the previous hearing. Khawaja Harris, the counsel for the minister, cross-examined the NAB witness.
The court directed the NAB to present two more witnesses, including Masood ul Ghani of the Habib Bank Limited and Abdul Rehman Gondal, on next hearing to record their testimonies.
Earlier on Monday, the judge adjourned the hearing till 12 noon due to absence of Dar’s lawyer.
Junior lawyer Kauseen Faisal Mufti filed an application, requesting the judge to grant the accused exemption from appearing before him for he wants to concentrate on his ministerial duties.
The court ruled that it would decide the plea later after hearing arguments of Dar’s counsel and asked the minister to be present at the hearing.
Ishaq Dar had arrived at the court at around 9:00 am and left soon after the hearing was postponed.
Out of total 28 prosecution witnesses, the court has so far recorded the depositions of three witnesses.
At the last hearing that continued for around eight hours, Al-Baraka Bank Senior Vice President Tariq Javed and Shahid Aziz of the National Investment Trust (NIT) had testified against the finance minister.
Aziz said that the minister had invested Rs120 million in the NIT in 2015 but withdrew the amount after the Supreme Court took up the Panama Papers case in January 2017. Javed also got his statement recorded and provided details of Dar’s five accounts, belonging to two of his companies and his wife.
According to the NAB reference, the accused had acquired assets and pecuniary interests/ resources in his name or in the name of his dependents of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million as per the investigation conducted so far.
The assets are disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for.
The court will indict former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Muhammad Safdar in graft references on Oct 18.
It had earlier declared the former prime minister’s sons – Hussain and Hassan – fugitive over their persistent absence from the proceedings.
The court had granted the request of NAB prosecutor to initiate proceedings to declare the absconding accused proclaimed offenders and order attachment of their properties.
Sharif and his sons have been nominated in all three references, while Maryam and her husband have been named only in a reference related to the family’s London flats.